According to a study conducted by researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, first responders and people at Ground Zero when the 9/11 attacks took place in 2001 may have long-term health concerns not previously considered. Those who were exposed to the huge dust cloud of air pollution could have inhaled significantly high levels of particulate matter which may have a negative impact on their cardiovascular health. They may also be more likely to develop other health issues including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), obstructive sleep apnea and heart disease.
This is not an entirely new area of research or concern in fact as the Mount Sinai’s WTC-CHEST Program has linked particulate matter exposure to heart, lung and kidney disease abnormalities in the past. The new research, however, has revealed even more very real health concerns. Those present at Ground Zero, especially first responders, were reportedly exposed to different amounts of a massive dust cloud that contained cement dust, glass fibers, heavy metals and smoke.
Cardiologist Mary Ann McLaughlin, the principal investigator for the WTC-CHEST Program at Mount Sinai reports that she and a team of researchers examined over 800 participants between January 2011 and September 2013 who had experienced varying degrees of exposure to the particulate matter.
McLaughlin reported: “Elevated exposure to the particulate matter from 9/11 caused upper airway inflammation and is a significant contributing factor to the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea.”
Their research also confirmed connections to multiple health issues. They were able to specifically link the inhalation of particulate matter inhalation to a high risk of PTSD. McLaughlin stated: “Our study shows high exposure to the massive dust cloud of air pollution at Ground Zero has increased the risk among first responders of both obstructive sleep apnea and PTSD.”
The researchers discovered that WTC Ground Zero responders with PTSD also registered higher biomarkers for “increased cardiovascular disease risk” with “hsCRP” or high sensitivity C-reactive protein which is a major “red flag” biomarker of the inflammation which indicates the increased cardiovascular risk.
As their presentation of this research at the American Heart Association’s special scientific session in San Francisco, California, yesterday came to a close McLaughlin concluded: “We plan to further closely monitor our WTC first responders for heart disease warning signs.”
(Image courtesy of Mount Sinai)